Police taken to task

Grassy Park police station.

The Grassy Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) has called for improved safety and security services from the police.

On Tuesday June 11 neighbourhood watches, community-based organisations and community leaders met in Lotus River for a monthly CPF meeting but were disappointed when there was no representative from Grassy Park police station.

Police, however, say they did not know about the meeting.

Those in attendance wanted a report from the various law enforcement agencies serving the area but the meeting became fairly heated.

Phillip Bam,spokesperson for the CPF, said the community appreciated the presence of Law Enforcement, Traffic Services and Metro Police who reported and took note of the concerns of the community.

But, he said: “A great disappointment was the absence of the local police. The station commander Colonel Dawood Laing is on leave and the acting station commander Christian Esau had family bereavement. However, the community felt that the station management should have ensured that another senior officer be present.”

Angry residents vented about poor service delivery, lack of proactive policing, police arrogance and rude behaviour towards citizens. People who were arrested during housing protests complained about being treated with disrespect.

“It was clear that generally, the community is disheartened by the poor quality of service delivery by police and called for their right to quality policing services to be respected by those who have the mandate to serve and protect. Allegations of corruption were also made,” said Mr Bam.

“The CPF was called upon to do their work of monitoring the police and to agitate for better services for the people. A call was made that responses to the concerns raised be reported on at the next meeting. The community will hold the CPF accountable and the CPF as the representative body and liaison between police and the community must demand accountability from the police. People are now sick and tired of year-after-year raising the same problems and concerns.”

Asked for SAPS’s response to the concerns expressed by the CPF and residents, Lieutenant Colonel Christian Esau said the CPF must work with the police.

“The CPF is supposed to be our partners. We did not know about the meeting because there had not been a meeting for some time. If we had known we would have sent a representative,” said Lieutenant Colonel Esau.

He added that they were motivating for more visible policing to address the concerns of the community.

“Officers from our Crime Prevention Unit (CPU) have been doing shift officers’ patrols and other duties because many of the shift members have been booked off sick. We will take their concerns seriously and work to improve services,” he said.

Residents also complained about the lack of Metro police presence during the night. “Community members would not accept the explanation of the service being under-staffed as there always seems to be more than sufficient Metro police available during protests compared to the slow response to crime,” he said.

Ward councillor William Akim said this would be addressed soon as a dedicated law enforcement officer would be deployed in each ward from July, the start of the new financial year.

Other issues raised included the lack of traffic services in the area.

Mr Bam said, at the meeting, the traffic department’s metro south district had offered more visibility and committed to attending to the residents’ concerns about speeding, reckless driving, unlicensed cars and congestion in the area.